Crowley, Serrano, Luján Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to STEM Fields for Hispanic Students

Apr 21, 2015 Issues: Education

HOPES Act would establish a grants program for Hispanic Serving Institutions

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressmen José E. Serrano (D-NY), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Hispanic Opportunity Program in Education and Science Act (HOPES Act), which would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a grant program to support undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). 

In 2007, Congressman Crowley inserted language in the America COMPETES Act to allow the NSF to establish a program focused on HSIs. Despite having this authority, the NSF has yet to establish such a program.  The HOPES Act will require the agency to establish a dedicated stream of funding for students attending HSIs.

 “STEM education is crucial for the United States in order to maintain the lead in cutting-edge technology and competitiveness, to create well-paid jobs, and to provide opportunities for all.  Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to attract Americans from all walks of life to these important and vital fields of study. The HOPES Act will increase the number of Hispanic students pursuing STEM degrees by creating dedicated funding to help students attending HSIs succeed in these fields of study.  This bill will help expand opportunities for all students, and will help ensure that our workforce in the STEM fields is as diverse as our nation as a whole,” said Congressman José E. Serrano.

“There is no question, STEM skills are critical for our country to compete in a global economy. Unfortunately, Hispanic students are severely underrepresented in these fields of tomorrow,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “Our HOPES Act builds upon efforts I have made over the past 8 years to urge the NSF to establish a separate STEM education grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions of higher education. By creating a dedicated grants program, we can help Hispanic students reach their rightful place in the STEM fields.”

 “The STEM fields offer a world of opportunities in growing sectors that create good jobs, and it is important that we engage students from every community.  Young people need access to quality STEM education that will prepare them with the skills and knowledge they need to get ahead,” said Congressman Ben Ray Luján.  “Attracting a diverse workforce will enhance our ability to out-innovate the rest of the world, and the HOPES Act will help encourage Hispanic students to engage in areas that are vital to maintaining our economic competitiveness and growing our economy.”

Hispanic students are currently greatly underrepresented in the STEM fields. According to NSF data, Hispanic students comprise 10.3 percent of all students in STEM 4 year undergraduate degree programs and 14.6 percent of STEM 2 year degree programs.  These numbers are well below Hispanics share of the nation's population as a whole- 17.3 percent.  This legislation will increase the likelihood of Hispanic students seeking a STEM education and provide HSIs with the necessary resources in order to enhance the quality of STEM offerings at HSIs and increase retention and graduation rates of students pursuing STEM degrees.  The bill is supported by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).